How to bark….

barking shy2Or more precisely how to get the disinclined to bark…. In a comment on an earlier post Boris B asked for some tips on how to get people who can’t let go sufficiently to vocalise whilst striking. Often people will feel awkward about ‘barking’ when striking. People can feel a bit silly, ironic really if they are wearing pyjamas and bowing to each other!

With kids its easy enough, they usually love to make a noise and then it’s just a case of refining the noise they make. For a shy retiring adult, it is probably a good idea to explain why barking is useful. In a previous post I outline some of the ways I’ve used different vocalisations when I teach. You can explain that weightlifters make a noise when they explode into a clean and jerk, or how Seles and others would grunt on each shot. Quoting Steve Morris

“The utterance of sounds whilst training and fighting is one way of charging the CNS to raise the number of motor units recruited and their rate of firing.  The sounds also can determine the pattern, rate, and intensity with which you strike, defend, or counter.  The duration of the sound as well as its pitch and intensity, can reflect and reinforce the nature of the physical effort and hostile or defensive intent of your movement.”

The vocalisations made during effortful strikes, counters and defensive movements can intensify output at a physiological level within the contributing muscles themselves as well as providing a ‘scary’ persona. All good then! They will probably like the idea of producing greater power at least. A mean(ingful) bark leads to a mean punch!

This is easy to demonstrate, the intensely vocalised strike has more venom. Then you can demonstrate how the duration works, cut the sound in half and you will get a faster strike, simple. Obviously the range of the shot will not be the same for extremely short duration vocalisations but a strike of a given length will be delivered quicker with more bite if the accompanying sound is shorter and more intense. Importantly the sound should “reflect and reinforce the nature of the physical effort and hostile….. intent of your movement”, this is vital.

These aspects are clearly illustrated in this clip of Pacquiao striking the heavy bag. Note how the sounds he makes match both the rate and intensity of the strikes.

Following this demonstration you can lead the ‘reluctant barker’ by making the sounds for him/her as he/she hits bags or pads, varying the rate and intensity of the striking as you do so. If the person is still reluctant, you can go strike for strike getting him/her to copy your example.

Once they get an idea of it they should have no trouble repeating the action and vocalisation. If there is still a problem, you can use more Steve Morris tricks to get them to let go. One he has written about on his site, is to get someone to hit a tyre with a baseball bat or pickaxe handle. Alternatively, you could use a heavy bag and any weapon you have handy; such as tonfa or kali sticks. Get them to imagine someone they hate (or a situation they hate, imagined or real) and to take that emotion out on the bag/tyre, then take that impression and use it in striking, even if the vocalisations are just swearing its a start.

If the reluctant barker is still struggling take each mini-success and build on it, get everyone to bark in time, building the intensity gradually,I’ve done this with kids and it seems to help.

It sounds a bit outlandish but until the person can get to do it once they won’t be able to repeat it. This clip of Steve Morris teaching gives an insight into a similar concept.


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